What Is a Multidisciplinary Team? (Plus Advantages)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A multidisciplinary team (MDT) is a group of professionals from different disciplines who work together, usually to provide comprehensive care for patients in health care. It's also possible to find these teams in other industries such as law, engineering and education. Knowing what MDTs are can help you understand how they work and learn how you can succeed as a member of one. In this article, we define what an MDT is, discuss its importance, explain how an MDT can become successful, outline the advantages and discuss the necessary skills.

What is a multidisciplinary team?

A multidisciplinary team is a group of people with different professional and academic backgrounds who work together on a project or issue. The team members bring their different perspectives and expertise to solve the problem or issue.

You can usually find MDTs in the field of health care where patients have a variety of needs that require the expertise of different professionals. You can also find them in other fields, such as in business, where different departments work together on a project or in research where different disciplines come together to study a phenomenon. Other fields include social work, engineering and education.

Related: 7 Types of Health Care Leadership (With Skills and Benefits)

Importance of multidisciplinary teams

They're important because they allow for a greater variety of perspectives and ideas when working on a problem or issue. This can lead to more creative and innovative solutions. Also, these teams can be more effective than teams made up of people with similar backgrounds. This is because team members can learn from each other and build on each other's strengths. This is especially important in health care where the patient's needs are frequently complex and require comprehensive care.

For example, if someone is experiencing health problems, a multidisciplinary team that includes a doctor, a nurse and a social worker can provide more comprehensive and holistic care than one general practitioner. This way, the patient can benefit from the different skill sets of the team members. The doctor can provide the medical treatment, the nurse can provide support or advice on managing the condition and the social worker can help with any social or emotional issues that may arise. Thereby, the team provides more well-rounded care for the patient.

Related: What Is the Importance of a Team? (With Team Skills)

Different ways multidisciplinary teams can be successful

These are several ways that MDTs can find success:

Define the team's purpose and goal

Defining its purpose and goal can help guide the team's work and keep everyone focused. It's important that everyone on the team is aware of the purpose and goal so that they can work towards it.

For example, the purpose of a multidisciplinary team in health care might be to provide comprehensive and holistic care for patients. The team's goal can be to improve the patient's health and quality of life. They can do this by coming up with a plan that takes into account the different needs of the patient. If the patient has a chronic illness, the team might come up with a plan that includes regular check-ups, medication and support groups.

Related: Important Roles and Responsibilities of a Team Leader

Divide the roles and responsibilities

Another way to ensure the team's success is to divide the roles and responsibilities amongst the members to help make sure that everyone has a clear understanding of their part in the team. This can help to prevent confusion and overlap in work. Having systems and protocols in place for the division of their roles and responsibilities can help prevent conflict and ensure that the team functions well.

During the team's initial meeting, it's beneficial to set some ground rules and see how each member can help contribute in a positive manner. For example, an MDT in the health care sector might have a team leader that's responsible for coordinating the team's work and keeping everyone on track, while the individual members can have responsibility for their own area of expertise.

Related: How to Establish Team Roles and Responsibilities

Set up guidelines and expectations

It's also important to set some guidelines and expectations for the team. This can help to ensure that everyone is in agreement and knows what's expected of them. Having guidelines can also help the team to keep focusing on its goal.

For example, the team might agree to meet on a weekly basis to discuss the patient's progress and review the treatment plan. They might also agree to keep confidential any information that they discuss during the meetings.

Encourage communication and collaboration

Communication and collaboration amongst the team members are essential for the team's success. This means that team members can share information and ideas openly with each other to solve problems and make decisions.

It's important that everyone feels comfortable communicating with each other and that there's an open and respectful dialogue. Having regular meetings can help to encourage this communication and collaboration. Also, creating an environment where constructive feedback is welcome can help the team grow and improve.

Related: How to Enhance Collaboration and Teamwork (Plus Benefits)

Evaluate the team's progress

It's important to evaluate the team's progress on a regular basis to see if it's achieving its goals. This can help to identify any areas that might benefit from improvement. It can also help to keep everyone motivated. Evaluation can happen in a number of ways, such as through patient surveys, interviews with team members or by looking at the team's performance data.

Regular evaluation can help the team make any necessary adjustments to its work so that it can continue to be successful. When evaluating the team's progress, it's important to involve all of the members so that everyone has a chance to share their thoughts and ideas.

5 advantages of a multidisciplinary team

There are many advantages to having an MDT. Some of these advantages include:

1. Access to more knowledge

MDTs provide access to more knowledge and expertise than what's available from one individual. This is advantageous because it means that the team can draw on a wide range of experience and perspectives when making decisions.

In health care, this can help to improve patient care, as the team can use the different areas of expertise to make sure that they consider all aspects of the patient's care. Alternatively, if a child is struggling in the education system and develops extreme issues with their behaviour, an MDT can help them by consisting of many skilled professionals, such as school counsellors, special education supervisors and school social workers.

2. Better decision-making

MDTs can also help to improve decision-making because the team can discuss different options and perspectives before making a decision, ensuring that they make the best decision possible. In health care, this is especially important as the decisions made can have a significant impact on the patient's health and well-being. For example, an MDT might discuss different treatment options for a patient before deciding on the best course of action.

3. Improved communication

MDTs can also help to improve communication amongst the team members because the team members can share information and ideas with each other, which can help them solve problems and make better decisions.

In health care, this is important because it can help to improve the coordination of care for the patient. For example, if the team is discussing a patient's care, they can make sure that everyone is in agreement and that everyone knows what they need to do.

4. Greater efficiency

MDTs can also help to improve efficiency as the team can share resources and divide up tasks so that everyone is working on the things that they're good at. In health care, this is important because it can help to improve patient care by making sure that the team is using its time and resources effectively.

For example, if the team is discussing a patient's care, they might divide tasks so that one person is responsible for contacting the patient's family, another person is responsible for ordering tests and a third is responsible for scheduling appointments.

5. Streamline problem-solving

MDTs can remove the compartmentalisation that occurs in larger institutions, thereby streamlining problem-solving. This is advantageous because it means that the team can work together to solve problems more effectively.

In health care, this is especially important because it can help to improve patient care. For example, if the patient needs a test that isn't available at the hospital, then having an MDT that consists of representatives from different hospitals can help the patient receive the test.

Skills beneficial in a multidisciplinary team

There are many different skills that can help an MDT function. These can include:

  • Critical thinking: This means that the team can think about a problem from different perspectives and identify the main cause of the problem.

  • Communication: Communication refers to the ability of the team members to share information and ideas with each other.

  • Teamwork: Teamwork refers to the ability of the team members to work together successfully and diplomatically.

  • Organisation: Organisational skills mean that the team plans and organises its work in an effective and efficient manner.

  • Time management: Time management skills involve the ability to use one's time effectively and efficiently.

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